Title / Red Sister
Author / Mark Lawrence
Publication Date / 2017
Star Rating / ★★★★
Goodreads synopsis: At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.
But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse. Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…
This is the first book in the Book of the Ancestor series and is my first book by this author. I have been aware of him for a while but I’ve been a bit unsure whether to read his first trilogy (The Broken Empire trilogy). I’ve heard the main character is pretty nasty – apparently he rapes two woman at the very start of the book and I’m not sure that is a character I want to read about. I don’t mind dark characters but I cannot get behind a character who would do that. Anyway when I heard he was coming out with a new series I was immediately interested. I didn’t know a whole lot about it but the blurb sounded interesting. I thought this was a fantastic book. The writing was great and easy to get into. I find sometimes with new authors it can take me some time to get into the flow of the writing but I had no such issues with this book. The narrative mainly follows Nona and I really enjoyed watching things unfold from her eyes. We see much of the plot develop within the convent Nona enters early in the book. Subsequently alot of the book is the development of the characters and the introduction to this new world, if that makes any sense. Basically it can be a little slow at times, as there is a lot of information given to the reader. There is quite some time spent reading about Nona’s lessons on various topics, from history to fighting. Personally I never had an issue with this. I don’t mind slower plots, as long as the world building and writing can push it forward. It is something to be aware of though, if you are not a fan of slower pacing. It is all part of the set up of the book and I thought it was well done.
There are quite a few interesting/intriguing characters and I enjoyed their progression throughout the book. I loved Nona as the main character. Lawrence has created an incredible cast of characters – all of which are complex, flawed and well written. The development of the characters throughout the book was so well done and I am so excited to see how they progress in future books. The magic system was an interesting one, which I feel will further expand in the next books. It is a pretty complex magic system and I have to admit that I got a little muddled with it. Having said that I do think it is well thought out, it is just a little dense. The world building was done very well. The set up of a new world is so important and I think Lawrence did a great job with this one. While we do spend most of the book in the convent, the outside world is explored through tales and a few flashbacks, so we get a wider understanding of the world. The ending was fantastic and is a great set up to the next book. I am excited to see where things will go from here and I will definitely be picking up the sequel.
Overall I thought this was a fantastic introduction to this new world. I was quite quickly immersed with the world and characters, and the plot was engaging throughout. As I have mentioned it is a little slow at times but it never dragged. I’m now contemplating checking out his other series but I’m still not sure I can put aside the nastiness of the main character. I will definitely be checking out the next book in this series and to be honest I’m a little sad for the wait now. I’m sure I’ll survive though :). I highly recommend checking this book out, especially if you love fantasy. Have you read this book? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.